AMSTERDAM—The Dutch space program, once a leader in scientific research on many fronts, has been weakened to the point of ineffectiveness, according to scientists and aerospace industry officials. The chief cause, they say, is a reluctance by the government to adopt a long-range plan and commit the resources necessary to achieve it.

"The Dutch government lacks vision and courage," said Karel Wakker, professor of space technology at the Technical University in Delft. "In most European countries, governments stimulate their space programs on a large scale. The Dutch government, however, is carrying out a policy characterized by insufficient budgets, dispersed over too many projects."

Wakker and others argue that the government needs to play a more active role in the European Space Agency (ESA). In addition, they note, responsibility for the country's space program is splintered among several ministries, including economic affairs, transportation, health and defense.

"The problem is that each...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!